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Archaeology Digs in the Middle East

The ancient middle and near east has been the primary interest to archaeologists for a very long time indeed. Here are a few of the recent investigations.

Field schools listed below with dates older than the current year may indicate an ongoing project that has not yet established dates for this season.

Akko (Israel)
June 30–July 27, 2013. University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Akko was first settled 5000 years ago, and throughout its history Akko has served as a major trading center for the region. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, Akko appeared prominently in ancient Egyptian, Ugaritic, Assyrian, Classical, and Biblical documents.

Apollonia-Arsuf Excavation Project
July 28-August 22, 2014. Tel Aviv University. Apollonia-Arsuf is located in the northwestern part of the modern city of Herzliya on a kurkar (fossilized dune sandstone) ridge overlooking the Mediterranean shore. The site was occupied as early as the Chalcolithic period and the Iron Age II but it is in the context of the Persian period that Apollonia-Arsuf became a coastal urban center, under Sidonian hegemony.

Bat (Oman)
January 14-February 26, 2014. Institute for Field Research (UCLA). The UNESCO World Heritage site of Bat, al-Khutm, and al-Ayn in northern Oman was once a major Bronze Age center of ancient “Magan” from 3,000 to 2,000 BCE, with connections to Mesopotamia, Iran, and the Indus Civilization

Bat Oasis (Oman)
January 13-February 26, 2015. Institute for Field Research (UCLA). The Bat Oasis Heritage Project (BOHP) was launched to study the Late Islamic/pre-Modern mud-brick village in Bat, working with the local community to understand how the abandoned village spaces were used.

Biblical Archaeology Review's Find a Dig
From the Biblical Archaeological Society, detailed excavation listings primarily from the middle and near east, a few from Europe as well.

Fayum (Egypt)
October 16-November 21, 2014. Institute for Field Research (UCLA). The Fayum field school takes place at the Greco-Roman town of Karanis, a large mudbrick settlement founded in the third century BCE as part of the Ptolemaic expanse of agriculture in the Fayum region of Egypt.

Giza Plateau Mapping Project (Egypt)
January 17-March 12, 2014. Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA). The Giza Plateau Mapping Project (GPMP), under the direction of Mark Lehner, evolved from its beginnings in surveying and mapping the landscape at Giza (Egypt) into a large-scale project, which includes: settlement and burial excavation; experimental archaeology and conservation; geomorphology and geophysics work; and archaeological field training. Under the umbrella of Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) we investigate the development of urbanism, labour organization, and the elementary structures of ancient daily life. The settlement dates to the Old Kingdom (c. 2450BC) and the cemetery dates from the Late Period (664 BC) to Early Roman Period (1st Century AD).

In 2014 we inaugurate a field training programme open to foreign students. This intensive eight-week field-study program, takes place at the Old Kingdom pyramid builder’s settlement site of Heit el-Ghurab, at the Giza plateau, as part of AERA’s muti-disciplinary archaeological project. The program provides eight academic credits awarded by American University in Cairo and will run from January 17 to March 12, 2014, providing six full-weeks excavation and one week’s work in the field laboratory. The program includes on site: excavation; site recording; survey; illustration and photography; and an introduction to bio-anthropology. In the lab and office: introduction to Archaeo-botany, Archaeo-zoology; Ceramics, Artefact, Lithics, Mud sealings, and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The comprehensive package covers tuition, accommodation and on-site food, tool kit and supplies, medical insurance, local transportation, and special field trips to archaeological sites in Greater Cairo.

Applications may be downloaded here and should be mailed directly to Dr Salima Ikram, AUC: salimaikram@gmail.com

Contact details: Ana Tavares, tavaresaera@gmail.com, tel. mobile UK +44 77 1952 1359, tel. mobile Egypt +20122 335 6263, Skype name: anainegypt. Click Giza Flyer for further information.

Hazor (Israel)
June 22-July 31, 2014 (two sessions). Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Excavations at Hazor, the largest biblical-era site in Israel, will be concentrated on the Israelite and Canaanite periods. Excavations will resume at Hazor, a major site in the Galilee, located approximately 5 km. north of Rosh-Pinnah. In this season the levels of the Israelite and Canaanite period will be explored.

Hippos-Sussita (Israel)
June 29-July 24, 2014 (four sessions). Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa. Sussita, or as it was known by its Greek name, Antiochia-Hippos, was founded after 200 BC, when the Seleucids seized the Land of Israel from the Ptolemies. Excavations focus on Hellenistic and Roman sections of the ancient site. In Summer 2012 the Thirteenth Season of Excavations at Hippos (Sussita) will begin. The site is located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a short distance from Kibbutz Ein-Gev. The city of Hippos is naturally bordered by cliffs and slopes of the hill on which Hippos was built overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

Huqoq (Israel)
Summer 2014. University of North Carolina. Huqoq (modern Arabic name: Yaquq) is a small ancient village located 1.5 miles to the northwest of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Huqoq flourished through the Late Roman and Byzantine periods, and was abandoned in the Middle Ages. A modern Arab village was located on the spot until 1948, and in 1949 a kibbutz was established nearby.

Institute for Field Research (Middle East)
The Institute for Field Research regularly conducts work in the Middle East.

Kinneret Regional Project (Israel)
June 16 to July 12, 2013. University of Berne, University of Helsinki, University of Leiden, and University of Mainz. The Kinneret Regional Project is an international archaeological expedition to the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee under the auspices of the Universities of Bern (Switzerland), Helsinki (Finland), Leiden (The Netherlands), Mainz (Germany) and Wofford College (USA) in collaboration with the Finnish Institute of the Middle East (FIME). Since 2006 Kinneret Regional Project is officially joined by students from Tartu (Estonia) and since 2010 by students from Bucharest University (Romania) with support from the Romanian Cultural Institute.

Ramat Rachel (Israel)
August 15–August 28, 2010. Tel Aviv University and Heidelberg University. The site of Ramat Rachel is located inside the international 1947-48 border of Israel, in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, on a hilltop about midway between the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Shipwreck 43 (Egypt)
TBD 2013. Oxford University School of Archaeology. In 2011, a team from the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the National Museum of the Philippines, supported by the IEASM during their annual mission to Aboukir Bay, began to excavate shipwreck 43, a vessel found in the northern section of the Central Harbour of Heracleion-Thonis. The wreck is one of at least 64 ancient shipwrecks discovered during Franck Goddio’s on-going survey and excavations at the port-city.

Shubayqa (Jordan)
July 31-August 13, 2014. Institute for Field Research (UCLA). Why did Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers in southwest Asia first decide to cultivate plants and tame animals? After 80 years of research into the ‘Neolithic Revolution’ we have come much closer to understanding why agriculture emerged and how it became the dominant means to feed human populations, but many questions still remain.

Tall el-Hammam (Jordan)

Jan 31-Feb 27, 2014. Trinity Southwest University. Tall el-Hammam, located eight miles northeast of the mouth of the Jordan River as it enters the Dead Sea, was the largest fortified city in the southern Levant for most of the Bronze Age. The site has been identified as the infamous biblical city of Sodom, as well as the location of Abel Shittim, one of the final camping sites of Moses and the Israelites before they crossed into Canaan (Num 33:49). In recent years, Collins’ team has uncovered extensive remains from Tall el-Hammam dating to the Early, Intermediate and Middle Bronze periods (3000-1700 BCE), terminating at the time when scholars believe Sodom would have been one of the doomed “cities of the Plain” (Gen 13-19). (See S. Collins’ article in the March/April 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, “Where is Sodom: The Case for Tall el-Hammam.”)

The past eight seasons have revealed a vast history of continuous occupation beginning from the Neolithic period and extending into the Middle Bronze Age. After the MBA, a seven-centuries-long occupational gap ended with the construction of a fortified Iron Age 2 town on the upper tall, replete with a monumental gateway. Excavations on both the upper and lower tall have exposed impressive architecture including immense MBA ramparts, EBA gateways, domestic complexes, a sacred precinct, and a monumental Middle Bronze Age gateway system. During Season Nine we will continue work on the Bronze Age gateway systems and associated pillared architecture, newly discovered monumental architecture, domestic structures, and other exciting features.

Tel Beth-Shemesh (Israel)
June 14-July 11, 2014. Institute for Field Research (UCLA). Tel Beth-Shemesh is located at the geographic meeting point of three different ethnic and cultural groups during the Iron Age, making it an ideal site to investigate ancient geopolitical, social, and cultural dynamics at a border zone.

Tel Kabri (Israel)
June 23-August 1, 2013 (two sessions). Haifa University and The George Washington University. Tel Kabri was the center of a Canaanite polity during the Middle Bronze Age. Excavations conducted from 1986-1993 revealed the remains of a palace dating to the Middle Bronze period (ca. 2000-1550 BCE).

Tell es-Safi, Gath, Israel
July 1-27, 2012. Bar Ilan University. Tell es-Safi (Hebrew Tel Tsafit) is a commanding mound located on the border between the Judean foothills (the Shephelah) and the coastal plain, approximately halfway between Jerusalem and Ashkelon. Archaeological surveys indicate that the site was inhabited pretty much continuously from the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium BCE) until 1948.

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